Improving My Craft

2020 and the Perpetual Balancing Act

Has it really been a hear and a half since I last updated this site? Those time and date stamps don’t lie.

The end of 2018 and all of 2019 were dedicated to finding balance. I am right in the middle of a pretty challenging period of my life. Both of my children are school age, and I participate actively in their events. I continue to work outside the home, though my focus has shifted from actively progressing a career to maintaining equilibrium and productivity where I am now. I continue to lead my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout troop and volunteer with my oldest daughter’s troop. Then there is the dog, the housework, the endless schedule management. And somewhere, inside all of that, I have to find time to write.

I learned, while fighting to keep my nose above the water last year, that if I want to do this writing thing–and I do, oh, I do–that I would need to be ruthless with my time. The biggest step I took was in getting off Facebook. While I loved the friends I had there, and found joy in several of the groups I participated in, the temptation to scroll and scroll and scroll became too great. I did a few month-long Facebook detoxes, and in the process found that I simply could not self regulate. So, at the end of my last Facebook detox, I just… never went back. This was a good decision. Yes, I have an author page there. Yes, I’ve completely neglected it. Unfortunately, this was one thing, for my own health, that I had to do.

I also let go of the old writing I had been struggling to complete. That’s it. Just let it go. It did not bring me joy, and in thanking myself for the time I spent and moving on, I found myself free of the feeling of crushing weight of unfinished, unloved, uninspired tasks. This left me room to start a new project, one that brought me excitement, fulfillment, and, yes, joy.

I am currently in the middle of that project, a fantasy novel about gods, murder, and obligation. I thought I would be able to finish the rough draft by the end of 2019, but it’s taken a bit longer. Part of this is because I have instilled a practice of being kind to myself as I uncover my writing process. The one shot, big and messy first draft technique just does not work for me, and allowing myself to go back and edit as I go, where I feel things need to change to make room for the growing story, has helped my progress. In writing this, I focus less on what others tell me I should do to complete a draft, and more on what I need to do to get this story out of my head and onto the page.

Not every day I spend with this novel is joyfol. Some days the struggle is immense, and I just feel angry and frustrated and lost. But I don’t have the same resistance to the struggle that I did before. Now I am able to move past that struggle and just get the work done.

I should finish the novel in the next couple of months, at which point 2020 will become the Year of the Edit. This is the novel that I will edit into completion to begin pitching to agents with a goal of being in the midst of the submission process by August with my next novel well underway.

Other goals for the year include attending my local fantasy and gaming con as a panelist, continuing my newly acquired gym habit, daily journaling, reading a lot of books (an easy goal of 24 on the 2020 Goodreads challenge), and initiating a family game afternoon on those weekends where we all get bored and mopey. Oh, and keeping this site updated a little more frequently. A year and a half is far too long.

Photo by Shiva Smyth from Pexels

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